"Donald J. HARLOW" wrote:
> Pretty obviously, the genuinely high (and open-ended) ratios appear at the
> boundaries of the language. Very few people are going to need a word such
> as (to use an old standby) "malsanulinarejego".

   This is an interesting example: it shows that the length of a
compound word or the number of its affixes isn't directy related to the
difficulty of its comprehension.
   I've understood "malsanulinarejego" at once because the string of
affixes follows a logical pattern. Let's dissect it:

     Mal       san      ul       in      ar     ej    ego
   Opposite  healthy  person  feminine  group  place  big

   Reading from right to left, we have "A big place for a group of
feminine persons (i.e. women) who are the opposite of healthy (i.e.
sick)". Everyone can figure out such a place without much effort.
   To the contrary, very short compound words (root + 1 suffix) can be
much more difficult to understand, if the relation between the meaning
of the root and that of the suffix is not clear.
   I looked at the "Ekzercaro" (it's on the Web), exactly at the last
exercise (#42) and, as I said jokingly, there is no "page of solutions"
at the end; the 52 compound words that Don Harlow quoted (message 23852)
are listed without translation or definition, leaving the discussion
open as to what Zamenhof meant with some of them (unless he explained it
later, as he did with "edzo").

   "Sanejo", though a very short word, is a hard one: it's difficult to
combine the concepts of "health" and "place appropriate for".
"Malsanejo", a place for diseases, may be better understood as
'hospital'; but, as I said before, healthy people aren't concentrated in
determinate locations but scattered everywhere.
      The same happens with "malliberejo": a place for those who are not
free is obviously a prison, but if I see "liberejo" I would wonder what
it means (as free people, by definition, have no fixed place to remain
in...) So, not necessarily simpler or shorter words are easier words.

   And the difficulty of "malsanero" also comes from the relation
between root and affixes. A "part of a disease" sounds strange in
whatever language; diseases have periods or stages, but not parts. This
is not a problem of Esperanto; I would have the same trouble with
"Krankheitteile" or even with "partes de una enfermedad".
   So probably the meaning of several compound words of Ekzerco 42 is a
secret that Zamenhof carried with him to the grave...